Meat+Poultry - September 2020 - 80

10

12

23

FROM THE CORRAL

Footage-focused audits
COVID-19 has forced independent
third-party auditors and representatives
from companies that buy large amounts
of meat to conduct many audits by
remote video. This new trend begs the
question: Could the video methods
learned during the pandemic make it
possible to eliminate all in-person visits
to plants for either animal welfare
or food safety audits? My prediction
is these new video technologies will
make it possible to reduce the number
of in-person visits but not eliminate
them. Some plant managers would
like to eliminate all the in-person
visits. However, there are some large
meat buyers who would not trust total
elimination of in-person visits.
For years, almost all the large
meat processing companies have
installed video cameras that are
monitored remotely by using the
technology and service of a company
such as Arrowsight Inc., Katonah,
NY. For these applications, stationary
cameras are located at the unloading
ramp, crowd pen, stunning area
and bleed rail. Auditors in a remote
location can measure falls, electric
prod use, percentage of animals
stunned correctly and insensibility
(unconsciousness).

One advantage of these systems
is that the plant employees never
know when the auditor is watching.
This prevents the problems of the
employees behaving properly when
they see a person with a clipboard.
When these cameras were first
installed, they resulted in some great
improvements in livestock handling
and stunning. To be effective, the
cameras must be monitored by people
working for an outside firm that sends
managers reports. In-house monitoring
by plant management is often less
effective. I have observed that when
the novelty wears off, managers often
stop monitoring them. They have to be
monitored by a person who actually
performs numerical scoring of the
different animal-based measures.

EVOLVING TECHNOLOGY
When the COVID-19 pandemic started,
it became obvious that stationary
cameras would not be sufficient to take
the place of a complete audit performed
in person. Employees know exactly
what the camera can and cannot see.
To replace a person visiting the
plant, a third-party auditor sitting
in their home could direct a plant
employee to walk with a camera and
show them what they wanted to see.
One method is to use a police-style
body camera that automatically reports
to a cloud server when the camera is
on and when it is off. This provides a
report that is date and time stamped.

If I were a meat buyer, I would be
willing to use this to replace many
in-person audits in plants I was familiar
with. I absolutely would not trust this for
plants I have never visited. Somebody
said to me that they could send me
a floor plan to facilitate directing the
camera person around the plant. The
problem is that I would have no way of
knowing if the floor plan was genuine.
After the COVID-19 pandemic is
over, I predict the number of in-person
auditor visits will be greatly reduced.
If I were in charge of meat buying and
supply chain management, all new
suppliers would have to be visited in
person. Any plant where there was a
history of problems would also require
in-person visits. For new suppliers,
another safeguard I would implement is
to have the in-person auditor videotape
all the production areas that my audit
program covers. The reason for doing
this is so that I would have a record
of what the plant looked like and to
ensure it was authentic and was not
tampered with. If the manager made
a change in the plant design or layout
to hide something, I would be able
to compare the archived video with
the new audit video. I may also start
using an artificial intelligence program
to verify that my archival footage
matches the video that I received from
the audit. Technology can do a lot of
great things, but it cannot replace all
in-person visits.

‡

‡
‡
‡

T E M P L E G R A N D I N | m e a t p o u l t r y @ s o s l a n d .c o m

Colorado State University

After the COVID-19 pandemic is over,
I predict the number of in-person
auditor visits will be greatly reduced.

W

Vie

80

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Meat+Poultry - September 2020

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Meat+Poultry - September 2020 - VDG1
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